In the depths of winter, many of us feel tempted to surrender to the blistering cold and scant sunlight by staying indoors, bundled up by our television sets. While there’s nothing wrong with allowing ourselves a few days of rest every now and again, an absolute drop in productivity can have a negative effect on our mental wellness. To fight lethargy, restlessness, and boredom, it’s important to stay active and involved during the winter months. Here’s a few ideas on how to begin:
Brighten Your Interior Environment
In winter, our bodies crave more daylight than they’re getting (especially after sitting in an office all day). Coming home to a house that mimics the bright, inviting energy of summer can be reinvigorating, inspiring a boost in mood and productivity. Open up blinds and curtains, fill your house with warm, artificial light, and add some color to your interior landscape. My housemates and I have decorated our kitchen table and fireplace with fake flowers and brightened our walls with colorful paintings. These small changes have made our home a more productive winter environment.
Eat Wholesome, Nutrient Rich Foods
Maintaining a vigorous diet and exercise routine is especially tough during the winter months, but practicing healthy habits is an important component of mental wellness too. Eating fatty snack foods and lounging around all day only amplifies feelings of tiredness and boredom. Eating whole grains, leafy greens like spinach, and amino-acid rich fruits like bananas and dates helps boost energy and serotonin (a neurotransmitter that creates feelings of happiness) production.
Exercise (Even Though You’d Rather Not)
Regular exercise is a scientifically proven way to boost mood and energy. Exercising outside in the sunlight is especially beneficial to mood, but outside exercise isn’t always realistic in the dead of winter. Still, you may consider bundling up for a short bike ride or brisk walk a few times a week. Personally, I’m a big fan of winter hiking (as long as it’s not too icy). The trails are a lot less crowded and the winter scenery is breath-taking. You’ll just need a proper coat!
Get Plenty of Sleep
Cold, dreary weather makes us feel tired, but it can also mess with our sleep schedules. In the winter, I tend to wake myself up earlier and go to bed later. The result? I feel sleep deprived and impossibly lazy during the day. For better results, stick to a consistent sleep schedule—about eight hours a night. Too little sleep will leave you feeling worn out, but too much sleep will make lethargy even worse. Get to bed early, and try to get up soon after the sun rises so you can enjoy a full day of sunlight.
Surround Yourself with Happiness
We all have ways of coping with bad days. In the winter, these coping methods can help get us out of seasonal funks. To improve my mood, I enjoy journaling and listening to up-beat music. Generally, I find that when I can surround myself with things that help me think positively, I have an easier time dealing with winter’s yuckiness. Happy music and regular reflection on the joyous, beautiful parts of my life keep me grounded and moving forward. And, once my mood lifts, I find it actually quite easy to appreciate winter: the bare tree branches, the stark and cool sunlight, and the slow, quietness of every movement. This “season of death” really does have some beauty to offer us, if only we know where to look.